#130 Embrace Aging

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#130

Embrace Aging

On a rather gloomy day in my late twenties – maybe after I noticed the most significant patch of grey settling in – I spent an entire weekend pampering myself, my skin, and my eyes. I exfoliated, scrubbed, hydrated, and massaged every part of my body that showed any signs of aging. The next day, I stopped for a bottle of wine on the way home from work and got carded… I was elated – beyond – that my efforts at disguising my advancing age (!) had worked!

Valuing Youth

Our culture values youth so much that we tend to fixate on staying young, for women at least and more than one client, friend, and relative has lamented on the aging process weekly for as long as I can remember. Even though we see more and more examples of middle aged and older individuals in the media, there is an acute undercurrent of anti-aging in our current culture. Everywhere we look, we are exposed to ideas of how to ‘stay younger, longer’.

Out of our Control

In practice, I think the most troublesome part of aging is that it is out of our control – this seems to be the component that most people have difficulty with. Even if they attempt to control their health – people are acutely aware that there is an absence of control over the years – time – slipping by. My suggestion for all those things that we can’t control: Embrace or let go!

Embrace

Perhaps to some, these are one in the same. Embracing, for the purpose of this suggestion is to see aging as an honor; a testament to strength and perseverance. It means accepting that our bodies change as the years pass. It means to stop fighting the organic process and to stop wishing for a fountain of youth. It may also mean that we stop spending money on wrinkle removal but see them as honor lines; earned through the years as we loved, laughed, and lived.

It doesn’t mean to give up on self care; to let our bodies atrophy. It doesn’t mean that we give up the goal of making each day count or the joy of learning something new with week that passes. It doesn’t mean that we surrender to the term “I’m too old”.

Let Go

Letting go doesn’t mean that you should necessarily ‘go gray’ – although that may be a stunning option – or to give up on your physical health. It does mean acceptance and letting go of critical thoughts about your appearance as it relates to age. It means to silence any disparaging comments about getting older. It may require conscious effort to be present and find joy in the present rather than lamenting over the past.

Letting go requires you to stop comparing your current self to your younger self with disdain or regret.

Wisdom

With everyday that passes, wisdom grows. Each day is an opportunity to learn and to love – both allowing us to embrace life more completely. In our older years we are the Autumn of life – where we burst into full color, demonstrating maturity and seasoned perspective. Hold onto this ideology and make the effort to…

Embrace aging.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Quick Stress Relief – There’s an APP for That!

I am taking a brief departure today to address stress. In the last two weeks, I’ve had a surge of clients making last minute appointments to cope with feelings of elevated anxiety and stress over the current political climate. I’ve shared this information so much in private sessions that I feel it may be beneficial to help alleviate accruing tension for any of us.

The Process

Any time your brain perceives a threat it stimulates the flight or fight response (FOFR) – there doesn’t have to be a REAL threat – just a perception of one. The FOFR is a series of chemical reactions in the brain that activates the sympathetic nervous system by pumping adrenaline into the bloodstream creating a faster heartbeat, higher blood pressure, faster respiration, etc…  That’s the first thing and it happens in microseconds – before your eyes or ears fully process what is happening. To keep you in a state of readiness, more chemical reactions take place until the adrenal gland starts to produce cortisol.  It is cortisol that sustains your readiness.

The Problem

Our bodies are not designed to sustain high levels of cortisol. In fact, a continuously elevated level of the stress hormone can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, impact sleep, cause weight gain, impact your libido, and much more.

Typically, after the threat passes, our parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) naturally takes over, returning our heart rate and breath to normal.

When we don’t get a break between perceived stressors, we need to FORCE our bodies to chill out. The chemistry works like this:  By extending your exhale longer than your inhale – the vagus nerve is activated and signals your brain to activate the PSNS, calming you down.

I know some people can’t pull themselves away from news or are surrounded by people who have differing opinions and so they stay stressed. Aside from the obvious… get away from news and people who suck your strength…. There is another solution to offer immediate relief…

Breathe

I recommend the app RELAX LITE to everyone I see who has difficulty with stress.

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I love it because it has calming music and a great visual to follow. Let’s face it, when we are stressed, it can be hard to find focus without a little help. Relax Lite has offers both breathing and meditation. Start with the BREATHING.

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Choose Beginner – and then set the length of time you want to focus on your breath. Even 5 minutes at a time is helpful. Start there.  LEVEL THREE is designed specifically to induce the PSNS by extending the exhale longer than the inhale.

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Sit quietly for a minimum of five minutes even if you must lock yourself in the bathroom stall at the office or on the pot at home. No excuses!

Not sleeping?

High levels of cortisol prevent melatonin production so you may find that you have a hard time getting to or staying asleep. Here are a couple of quick tips:

No news or bright lights at least two hours before bedtime.

Use a meditation CD or app as you lay down – guided meditations that use progressive relaxation are great!

Make sure you have actively made an effort to engage your PSNS.

Use synthetic melatonin – but sparingly.

Focus

Don’t forget to focus on what you DO have control over. Taking control of your body is first and foremost but there are other things as well. When you become proactive on any front, your stress is mitigated!

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